Overview of 2014 fees

The Benchers have approved a total annual fee of $3,690 for 2014, a 1.3% increase over 2013. The practice fee will increase by $46.94 to $1,940 and the insurance assessment will remain the same at $1,750. The Trust Administration Fee will increase from $10 to $15 per transaction on January 1, 2014. The presentation to the Benchers on the 2014 fees and the associated budgets for each fund is available on the Law Society website in the September 27, 2013 Bencher meeting agenda materials.
            2014            2013     Difference    % 
Law Society Operations $1,571.11 $1,544.75 $26.36 1.7%
The Federation of Law Societies  25.00 25.00 
The Canadian Legal Information Institute (CanLII)  36.00 35.37  0.63 1.8% 
The Law Foundation of BC (Pro Bono)  30.39 15.44  14.95  96.8% 
Courthouse Libraries BC (CLBC)  190.00 185.00  5.00  2.7% 
Lawyers Assistance Program (LAP) 60.00 60.00 
The Advocate   27.50 27.50 
Annual Practice Fee  1,940.00 1,893.00  46.94  2.5% 
Lawyers Insurance Fund Assessment   1,750.00 1,750.00   -
Total Mandatory Fee   3,690.00 3,643.06  46.94  1.3% 

Practice Fee

The Benchers have set the 2014 fees pursuant to the Legal Profession Act based on a thorough review of the Law Society’s finances by the Finance Committee. The Finance Committee met with senior management to review the proposed 2014 fees and budgets for the General Fund and the Lawyers Insurance Fund. The Finance Committee also reviewed the fee proposals from a number of organizations and programs supported by Law Society fees, including: Courthouse Libraries BC, the Lawyers Assistance Program, The Advocate, the Federation of Law Societies of Canada, the Canadian Legal Information Institute and the delivery of pro bono and access to legal services. Based on these meetings and reviews, the Finance Committee made recommendations to the Benchers regarding the fees for each of these funds and programs. These recommendations have been reviewed by the Executive Committee and were approved by the Benchers at their September 27, 2013 meeting.

The overall objective when setting the fees is to ensure that the operations are appropriately funded to enable the Law Society to efficiently and effectively fulfill its statutory mandate of protecting the public interest in the administration of justice.

Law Society Operations

For the portion of the practice fee that funds the Law Society operations, the Benchers have approved an increase of $26.36 (1.7%). The focus of the 2014 General Fund budget, in addition to delivering the core regulatory programs and meeting the established key performance measures, is to support the Law Society’s Strategic Plan and Priorities, and in particular, to support proactive regulation to ensure that the Law Society remains an innovative and effective professional regulatory body.

Total revenues (excluding the capital plan), are budgeted at $20.3 million, an increase of $791,000 over the 2013 budget. Based on the average growth in membership over the last few years, membership is projected to increase to 11,190, 2% more than the 2013 projection. The Professional Legal Training Course (PLTC) revenue is based on 450 students and includes the first graduating class of Thompson Rivers University Law School.

The total operating expenses (excluding a change in inter-fund expense allocations) are budgeted to $20.3 million, an increase of $566,000 (2.9%) over the 2013 budget. The increase is mainly attributable to market-based staff salary adjustments and the introduction of lawyer support and advice initiatives. The lawyer support and advice initiatives will enhance the current lawyer support and advice programs to provide more self-help assistance to better meet lawyers’ expectations.

There are one-time costs which will be allocated from General Fund reserve, which are related to the lawyer support and advice initiative, an articling student pilot program, a review of the practice standards program, the Lawyers Insurance Fund independence review and the 2014 contribution to the Canadian Bar Association Rural Education and Access to Lawyers (REAL) program. The use of reserve for these one-time costs, a total of $497,000, allows these to be funded without increasing the annual practice fee.

Trust Administration Fee

The Trust Administration Fee (TAF) funds the trust assurance program and has remained set at $10 since its introduction in 2005. However, revenue from TAF has been declining over the past seven years, largely due to fewer real estate unit sales. In order to offset the decrease in revenue and cover the costs of the program, TAF will be increased from $10 to $15 per transaction, effective January 1, 2014. More information

The Federation of Law Societies of Canada

The Federation of Law Societies of Canada provides a national voice for provincial and territorial law societies on important national and international issues. The Law Society’s contribution to the Federation will be $25 per member for 2014, unchanged from 2013.

The Canadian Legal Information Institute (CanLII)

CanLII is a not-for-profit organization initiated by the Federation of Law Societies of Canada. CanLII’s goal is to make primary sources of Canadian law accessible for free on its website at www.canlii.org. All provincial and territorial law societies have committed to provide funding to CanLII. The Law Society’s contribution is $36 per member, an increase of $0.63 from 2013.

Courthouse Libraries BC

Courthouse Libraries BC (CLBC) provides lawyers and the public in BC with access to legal information, as well as training and support in finding and using legal information. The Law Foundation of BC and the Law Society both contribute to CLBC funding. The Law Society’s contribution for 2014 is $190 per member, a $5 increase over 2013. This increase of 2.7% supports CLBC in managing the rising costs of legal information.

Pro bono funding

As recommended by the Access to Legal Services Advisory Committee, the Law Society contribution to pro bono and access to legal service programs will increase in 2014 from $175,000 to $340,000 per year ($30.39 per member). The Law Foundation includes this Law Society funding in its financial support to organizations offering pro bono legal services to the public.

Lawyers Assistance Program

Law Society funding for the Lawyers Assistance Program (LAP) in 2014 is $60 per member, unchanged from 2013. LAP provides confidential outreach, education, support and referrals to lawyers and other members of BC’s legal community.

The Advocate

The 2014 subscription fee for The Advocate, distributed bi-monthly to all BC lawyers, is $27.50, unchanged from 2013.

Lawyers Insurance Fund assessment

The Benchers have resolved to maintain the annual insurance fee at $1,750 for 2014. The recession and the economic downturn continue to generate increased claim activity, but overall the program is managing the increased costs within the existing insurance fee and investment revenue. While the majority of insurance programs in other Canadian law societies have increased their fees, effective management and solid surplus reserves have made it possible to hold the Law Society’s insurance fee at $1,750 since 2011. However, the risks presented by the new Limitation Act, Family Law Act, and the pending Wills, Estates and Succession Act, are likely to result in additional future claims. These new risks, higher costs, and lower investment returns may require an increase to the fee in future years.

Total fee comparison with other law societies*

* 2013 Law Society of Upper Canada and Law Society of Alberta practice fees adjusted by 2% for comparison to 2014 Law Society of BC practice fee, and 2013 Law Society of Upper Canada practice fee adjusted to reflect $7.55 million contribution to operating costs from reserve ($206 per member).

For more information

If you have questions about the fees or the financial information in this notice, please contact Jeanette McPhee, Chief Financial Officer and Director of Trust Regulation, by telephone at 604.443.5712 (toll-free at 1.800.903.5300) or email at jmcphee@lsbc.org.